Perhaps best known today for its infamous recent history, Rwanda is now setting forth in a new direction. We pay respect to the country’s troubled past and then experience its forward-looking development. We explore the vibrant city of Kigali and diverse verdant countryside: mountain forests that are home to Silverback gorillas, tea and coffee plantations and lake islands with traditional fishing villages. Along the way we meet people who share with us their optimism of a new Africa: seamstresses proud of their colorful dress, reformed poachers making a living by productive, sustainable means and everyday people farming, planting coffee and tea, improving their situation in whatever means are presented. Everywhere there is determination to create a country that is peaceable, viable, and authentic—and remains true to what makes Rwanda a truly special place.
When to go?
Rwanda has a pleasant semi-tropical climate die to the country's high elevation, but that means lots of rain, too. Your best bet is the dry spell from June through September.
Mora than two decades after a violent civil war, Rwanda is peaceful again, attracting visitors with its covered gorilla trekking experiences - by far the country's buggest draw. But Rwanda offers even more than the chance to encounter the majestic apes. The capital of Kigali, treated by most travelers as quick stop-over before their safari, is home to a thriving arts scene and new restaurants that reward an extended stay. The year-old Heaven Retreat, with its teak furnishings and private patios , offers a central base. A 2.5 hour drive to the east, 433-square-mile Akagera National Park is home to 18 black rhinos, reintroduced in 2017, which means you can see the big five in Rwanda. Wilderness Safaris is bringing luxury for the first time with debut in March of Magashi Camp, which feature six tents facing Lake Rwanyakazinga. In the southwestern reaches of the country, the new One&Only Gorilla's Nest and Singita Kwitonda.
Day 1. Arrival to Rwanda!
Day 2. After an early lunch in Kigali we’ll head to the airport for a short 25-minute flight to Cyangugu, on the shores of Lake Kivu. Our ultimate destination today is the stunning Nyungwe Forest, a vast national park that extends across the border into Burundi to the south. Visit a nearby tea plantation before embarking on a short walk this afternoon.
Day 3. We dedicate the morning to the Colobus monkey, a particularly interesting primate species that is abundant in the Nyungwe Forest National Park. Return to the lodge for lunch before joining in on a forest-canopy walk to observe chimpanzees in the area.
Day 4. Much of the day today is dedicated to exploring the shores of Lake Kivu, considered one of Africa’s “Great Lakes.” Take a morning drive to a coffee station for a firsthand lesson on one of the country’s major economic drivers. Later, undertake a village to village walk near Kibuye, overlooking the shoreline, islands and coves of this beautiful lake.
Day 5. Journey to Ruhengeri Province and the Virunga Mountains this morning. Drive through the heart of the “Thousand Hills” stopping occasionally to visit roadside markets and along the way. Have a short visit at the ex-poacher’s village, offering interesting insights into traditional shelters, medicines, foods, and culture.
Day 6. We’ll rise early the next morning and follow expert trackers to see family groups of Silverback gorillas, which are habituated to human interaction. It may sound like a cliché, but a face-to-face meeting with these animals is a life-changing experience: a sight of the magnificent creatures—especially the young, when they make eye contact—is truly stirring. Because viewing times are limited, we’ll be alone with them for a few precious hours. Our hike toward the gorillas can be challenging as we often make our own trails through the forest. However, we have plenty of guides and porters to break trail and lend a helping hand (and the walking is very engaging and exhilarating, especially as you contact the gorillas for the first time). We’ll return to the lodge in the early afternoon for lunch and then relax for a while before continuing on a variety of activity options. These include a beautiful walk on the shore of Lake Ruhondo, a boat trip on the lake, or a visit to a farming village. We’ll return to The Virunga Lodge for dinner.
Day 7. Return to Kigali this morning to visit the starkly moving Genocide Memorial Centre and the Hotel Mille Colline, also known as “Hotel Rwanda.” Later, explore the wonderfully clean and friendly downtown area, a colourful local arts and crafts centre and home of the Richard Kandt Natural History Museum.
Day 8. Depart Rwanda for your flight onward.